I circumcised my son, are you going to unfollow me now?

Awhile back, one of my twitter followers, after having a discussion about something totally unrelated, tweeted: I circumcised my son, are you going to unfollow me now? 


I’m a very vocal intactivist. Most people know, when they follow me on social media, I’m going to talk about circumcision.














I’m going to talk about the unethics of it. I’m going to challenge the morality of removing erogenous tissue from non-consenting minors. I’m going to post links and blog articles discussing some of the very tragic things that can result from cutting the genitals of children.


So when someone tweets something like this to me, it makes me stop, because I know there is deep pain in those words. It’s not like she’s suddenly been blindsided by my intactivism. No, behind those words is a very real wound, most likely caused by the truth of circumcision and the actions of intactivists.


And I can’t sit here on my moral pedestal and pretend like I haven’t said some unhelpful things about this loaded topic. I had to scrap an earlier draft of this post because all that was coming out was snark. But in my evolution as an intactivist, I’ve also learned that as vindicating as snark may feel, it’s not going to save any babies.


I know many people who cut their sons, or are circumcised themselves, who see nothing wrong with removing healthy genital tissue from babies. I know people who know it’s unnecessary and painful and traumatic, and shrug their shoulders because they prefer the aesthetics of a bald penis.


Obviously this makes my heart break, because I see children as autonomous people, with their own set of rights, independent of the ones parents grant them. Yes, intact genitals are a human right, even when parents prefer circumcised ones.


But I don’t think these people are bad parents, and I’m sure most of them love their children dearly. In fact, most people circumcise their sons because they believe it’s what is best for them, and many more simply because they don’t see anything wrong with circumcision.


However, I also know history will be on my side. I know cultural attitudes and ethics will move in the direction of bodily autonomy for children. I know the idea that children as extensions and property of their parents is an archaic idea that the human race is evolving out of, ever so slowly.


So we can still be friends, and I won’t martyr you and your decision to cut your son’s healthy penis. I don’t think you are a bad parent. I don’t think you hate your children.


But I’m not going to stop talking about the unethics of circumcision because I want to move us to a point in our human history where we don’t cut the genitals of children anymore. Human progress has never been achieved through silence.























This week, intactivists are gathering in DC on the west lawn of the capitol to educate people about circumcision. It’s Genital Integrity Awareness Week, and for the 20th consecutive year, intactivists are raising awareness about child genital cutting.


I ask you, reader, to take the time this week to learn some of the facts about circumcision. When and why we started cutting the genitals of children, in a medical setting. What the purpose and role of foreskin is. After all, we evolved to have prepuce, every mammal on this planet. Read some of the stories of men who resent being circumcised against their will. Discover how many men are restoring their faux skins.


I believe that intact genitals are a human right, and circumcision violates medical ethics and human rights to bodily autonomy. I know the benefits of circumcision can be achieved without cutting babies, and I will never stay silent. I hope we can still be friends.














Maria Bangs is a social justice activist, attachment parent, and blogger at www.barreloforanges.com. When she’s not championing human rights, you can find her playing in the snow or surf, reading a good book, or on Twitter @barreloforanges
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  1. People who have NEVER EVER heard of any controversy around circumcision and who cut their kids are ignorant parents, not bad parents.

    But people who have cut men staring them in the face saying I RESENT THIS MUTILATION and who are advised to spend 20 minutes watching Functions of the Foreskin (now on YouTube) – but don’t watch, but do cut their kids – are bad parents.

    People who watch Functions of the Foreskin and still think they’re making the best choice by cutting their kids are just impervious to reason. Religion or brain damage must be involved.

    • I fear this sort of attitude about parents is precisely what turns people off from intactivism, or makes our case less appealing. I do fear for the children of parents who willfully ignore the intactivist message, but I doubt telling these children that their parents are bad parents or have brain damage, is going to help our male victims in the slightest, especially given the dynamic and importance of the parent-child relationship. In the end, regardless how we may feel about parents who cut their sons in the face of irrefutable evidence, we have to address the victims of genital mutilation, and support them in the many ways they need support. I wrote a post last summer that addresses this issue: What will we tell these circumcised boys? http://barreloforanges.com/2012/08/07/what-will-we-tell-these-circumcised-boys/

  2. Yes, Ron. Agree.
    Maria, sometimes people need the naked truth whether it ‘turns people off’ or not. People who dismiss evidence of harm are indeed bad parents and one day will be prosecuted for the sexual assault that this is. The day is drawing in on getting a free pass on circing our sons. Yes, in the face of evidence it is Bad Parenting to rape your children’s penis. Full stop. Diplomacy be damned: sorry friends, you cut your son and you’re out of my life.

  3. Hi, Ur doin it right. Hi, here it comes I know….bracing for it….. I am a mom who loves every part of my sons. I understand the cause, I think it is logical to leave boys whole. If it were up to me my sons would not be circumcised. they are. All three of them. I hope they don’t have any complications with is as they get older. I didn’t know anything about the damage that could happen, I didn’t know it wasn’t medically necessary. My pediatrician 5 years ago said do whatever your husband is. I left it to my husband.

    the time came to circumcise, I hated it I cried the whole time as I waited in another room. my husband went in and supervised it. it bothered him, but it was what the medical community said was best. And religiously we don’t believe that God would have recommended anything to his chosen people the Jews that would be damaging. I want to clarify that we didn’t do it for religious reasons we did it for the “medical reasons” and because my husband was raised to think it was “weird” to not be circumcised and didn’t want our boys to be ridiculed for their natural penises.

    My husband’s mind will not be changed. you would be in for a delightful dialogue if you got the chance to meet him and talk with him about he topic. I love my husband. He loves our boys. I couldn’t ask for a better husband. Until the medical community changes what they say about circumcision He won’t either. However, his mind is opening in that I know that if in the future the boys didn’t circumcise their boys he would be supportive.

    I appreciate you guys standing up for what you believe and I think it is a good cause. Thank you for posting this Maria, thank you for not attacking people. You are right it does absolutely no good. your cause is immediately undermined and compromised when the insults come out. keep up the simple stating of information and facts.

  4. very moving, that is exactly my view of intactivism and I can’t stand parents being called bad parents because they were ignorant.

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